With separate parliaments recently established in Scotland and Wales and a separate English parliament under discussion, Britain is the disunited kingdom. Part of the reason for that is that Brits look down on one-another at a great rate -- for reasons of social class and according to where they live -- both of which are usually indexed by accent. Anybody who lives North of Watford, for instance, is regarded as a semi-barbarian by most of those who live in the South-East. And to most of the English, the Scots are simply hilarious! And the Welsh are good only for singing, of course. G.B. Shaw (who was an Irishman) summed it up well with his famous saying that: "No Englishman can open his mouth without causing another Englishman to despise him".
Such unhappy people do, of course, also sometimes take it out on people from overseas and Australians are often recipients of some such animus. On the whole, however, Australians are much better accepted in Britain than are other Englishmen! I once had an upper-class girlfriend in London, for instance, who was quite ready to marry me but who would NEVER have married a Cockney (working-class Londoner)!
Most Australians, however, are unaware of that context. They do not realize how generally prejudiced the English tend to be about other groups and get more offended than they should be when some ignorant English twit mouths off about Australians. Australians fail to realize that the same English twit will despise other Englishmen even more. Hence the outraged reply in the Australian mainstream media to a recent example of such twittery. The twit concerned certainly did make some extraordinary and ill-founded generalizations. Excerpt:
the Land Down Under is not populated by the hearty, the gregarious and the welcoming, but by white trash (I don't particularly like that phrase because no-one has the courage to use its equivalent, `black trash', but you get the point). Australians are some of the most coarse, racist people on earth, as Kath & Kim rightly portrays. For example, an American girl who seeks courtship will tentatively ask you for a meal and weeks of getting to know you; an Australian girl will come up to you at the Walkabout bar in London's densely Aussie-populated Shepherds Bush and inquire `Would you like a f*ck?'
What the author, Patrick West, failed to explain is that the English have always migrated to Australia in droves and that over a million British-born people live in Australia to this day (over 5% of the Australian population). That is called "voting with your feet". Migrating to another country is a big move. People don't do it unless the new country is a lot more attractive to them than the one they left. So the judgment of English people who know Australia well is very favourable. But I guess that the English too must be white trash and some of the most coarse, racist people on earth.
As Mr West observes, there are also many Australians (106,000) who have moved to Britain for work opportunities but they are nowhere nearly as many as those who have gone the other way.
It seems highly likely that Mr West's diatribe could fall foul of Britain's Draconian hate-speech laws. The publication in which the diatribe appeared is "Spiked" -- a generally libertarian British publication -- so I would regret it if "Spiked" went the way of its predecessor publication -- LM -- which had to close down as the result of a lawsuit. Given the British legal environment, I think that the editor would be wise to withdraw the article promptly and substitute an apology for it.
Perhaps I should mention that I have written some rather scornful things about Britain. I have just re-read them and am rather pleased about how well they stand up -- even though they were written nearly 30 years ago.
There is a rejoinder to the West article here. And there is a contrasting British view of Australia here. The contrasting view is based on an actual visit to Australia -- unlike Mr West's puerile outpouring.
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